Professor Stephen Hawking and Alibaba/Facebook tycoon Yuri Milner are joining forces to pioneer a $100 million two-part project to search for alien life. Milner will be personally funding the majority of the project.

The first part of the project, the Breakthrough Initiative, will be a 10-year survey of a million star systems using two telescopes. The second part, the Breakthrough Listen, will be a wider search of open source data and sound waves from space. 

Video: Livestream

Unlike NASA's SETI program, which, due to lack of funding, could only listen for 24 to 36 hours at a time, the Breakthrough Initiative will have its sensors open at all times for the full ten year span of the project. This means they'll be able to collect the same amount of data in a day as SETI initiatives collect in a year. All of this data will be publicly available. 

Hawking says of the project, “We believe that life arose spontaneously on Earth, so in an infinite universe, there must be other occurrences of life.”

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